Lorry driver in M1 crash that killed eight tells court he is a 'careful driver'

A lorry driver who was involved in a three-vehicle pile-up on the M1 in which eight people died has described himself as a "careful driver" and denied he was drunk.

Polish national Ryszard Masierak, 32, said that before the fatal crash in the early hours of August 26 last year he had stopped on the hard shoulder because he was sweating, felt weakness and had a headache.

Asked by his defence barrister Charles Sherrard QC, at Reading Crown Court, whether his headache was because was drunk, Masierak said "no".

M1 crash court case
Ryszard Masierak denies being drunk at the time of the crash (Steve Parsons/PA)

Masierak described himself as a "careful driver" despite other road users saying his driving was "erratic".

He told the jury he had drunk alcohol before starting his delivery shift.

The prosecution have said that a breath test at the scene and later at a police station showed he was "likely to have been in the region of twice the legal limit" at the time of the collision at about 3am.

The court also heard that Masierak had been stationary for 12 minutes in the slow lane of the M1 that day.

M1 accident
Eight people died in the crash (@ItsOllieYT/PA)

The collision happened after Fed Ex driver David Wagstaff, 54, crashed into a minibus driven by Cyriac Joseph, who was waiting with his hazard lights on for the chance to go around a second lorry, driven by Masierak.

Masierak recalled that at junction 14, before the crash, he knew "that something bad was happening to me" as he was feeling unwell and slowed his vehicle.

Through a Polish interpreter, he told the jury: "Approaching this slip of the road my vision was blurry.

"This slip road was in the distance as if some mist was in my eyes. Instead of seeing one lane I could see two."

He said he was attempting to get to the hard shoulder to stop, adding that he felt faint "as if I was going to lose it".

Masierak said he slowed his lorry and pulled the handbrake.

He said: "I fell to the floor between the passenger seat and the drivers seat. Then I lost consciousness and do not remember anything from then on - not the force of the impact."

He said he could not recall what had happened and described it like being in "a small coma".

Wagstaff, of Stoke, has pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing death by careless driving and four counts of careless driving.

Masierak and Wagstaff both deny eight counts each of causing death by dangerous driving, and four counts each of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Masierak, of Evesham, Worcestershire, faces a further eight charges of causing death by careless driving, while over the prescribed alcohol limit.

Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC told the court that a taxi driver who went to Masierak's cab within seconds of the crash said he was drunk.

Masierak told the court the taxi driver was "very wrong" adding: "I was not drunk before stopping I was feeling very unwell."

The fatalities included six men and two women. Four other minibus passengers, including a four-year-old girl, were seriously injured in the collision on the southbound M1, near Milton Keynes.

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